– Stylish exterior styling
– Surprisingly fast
– Great ride and handling
– Conservative cabin styling
– Quirky gearbox behaviour
– Limited feedback from controls
What do you get when you cross a family sedan with a marketing department? A “four-door” coupe! Of course, Volkswagen did not think of it first with the CC. That honour goes to Mercedes-Benz. But VW can be credited with bringing this confused-yet-stylish genre of cars within reach of consumers who don’t want to pay up for an overpriced Mercedes-Benz.
The Volkswagen CC, as it’s now called after dropping the “Passat” from its name due to confused customers, is a rather stylish car in the flesh. Facelifted up front, with new tail lamps and not much else, it continues to look good for 2013. Our tester came with 18-inch wheels, dual exhaust tips and a panoramic glass roof. It looks even better with the optional 19-inch alloys.
The nearly-unchanged interior looks very simplistic, but materials are premium for the most part. The upper dash and door panels are all squishy materials, the door inserts have softer leather than before, and the central console looks to be real aluminium, with some wood trim breaking up the upper and lower halves of the cabin. The two-tone look is nicely done, but just like in the old model, the front passenger has to stare at a blank hard-plastic dashboard panel above the glove-box, which is about the only bit of cheapness found in an otherwise luxury-grade interior.
The fact that the Volkswagen CC is just a chopped-top version of the Euro-spec Passat would mean that space would be compromised, but that’s hardly the case. Six-footers can sit in those thickly-bolstered seats both up front as well as in the back. Rear legroom is pretty good, about as much as a Nissan Maxima. And the boot is only slightly smaller than that of a Toyota Camry, and comes with several hooks to hang grocery-bags. That stylish shape hardly comes with any practical penalty.
Features include a touchscreen that integrate the good CD/MP3 stereo, navigation, Bluetooth phone and certain other settings, with shortcut buttons on the sides to cut down on the menu-surfing. The dual-zone automatic a/c is pretty good, with a quicker-to-use knob now replacing the buttons for fan speed, compared to the older model. Further features include power-adjustable front seats, USB port, cooled glove-box, HID headlights with turning feature and LEDs, fog lamps, cruise control, powered rear sunshade, rear camera with front/rear sensors, electric parking brake, four covered cup-holders, lots of airbags and more.
Our VW CC is not the basic 4-cylinder turbo front-wheel-drive model, but rather, the naturally-aspirated direct-injection 3.6-litre “FSI” V6 version, complete with 6-speed dual-clutch automanual gearbox and all-wheel-drive. The 300 hp engine is deceptively docile in normal ‘drive’ mode, but springs to life when the transmission is slipped into ‘sport’ mode, holding low gears and revving till redline. The 350 Nm of torque peaks at only 2400 rpm, and stays that much all the way till 5300 rpm. There is never any shortage of juice, even on highway overtaking, which is a weak point of the 2.0-litre turbo model. And we were burning only 11.5 litres/100 km on average.
The “DSG” gearbox functions like a proper automatic for the most part, the jerkiness of shifting only becoming apparent in sport mode. In normal mode, it can be annoyingly economical, refusing to downshift and what not, requiring a quick shift of the lever into sport mode to force earlier downshifts, quicker paddle-shift response and for holding gears longer. We got used to doing that as needed.
The V6 comes with an awesome proactive all-wheel-drive system, meaning there doesn’t need to be sandy surfaces or wet weather for it to send power to the back wheels. It just sends power to each wheel based on what gives the best traction, even in dry weather. Thanks to that, we managed a wheelspin-free 6.1 seconds in the 0-100 kph run with the older model, which had the exact same engine, in early-summer weather.
The VW’s handling matches up to its sporting acceleration too, with superb grip levels and imperceptible body roll, let down somewhat only by its disconnected feedback from the steering and the brake pedal. But that’s forgivable, considering how comfortable it is, more so than “luxury” cars like the Infiniti M56 S. The adjustable suspension offers three settings, with the softest “comfort” mode feeling distinctly different from the firmest “sport” mode, with even the steering firmness changing between modes. It was great to have this option, as we left it in “comfort” most of the time, switching to “sport” only when we felt frisky.
As we said before about the previous model, the VW CC is quite possibly the best midsize sedan we’ve ever driven in the entry-level “almost-luxury” field. It really is a car for all occasions, comfortable when needed and aggressive when necessary. No other midsize car in its price-range offers the ability to change personas on the fly like this one can. This one is going on our recommended list.
Current Model Introduced in:
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